Thursday, June 20, 2013

Shanghai Eats: Wei Xiang Zhai

Fine dining this is not. But if you want the absolute best bowl of májiàng miàn (sesame paste noodles) you've ever had in your life, look no further than the tiny hole in the wall restaurant Wei Xiang Zhai. Located in a rather grimy spot on Yandang Lu, this noodle shop has a reputation as one of the best lunch spots in town.


While the menu is all in Chinese, I doubt you are coming here for anything other than the sesame paste noodles. Friends tell me the xiǎo niú tāng (beef curry soup) is also a hit, though my aversion to meat has kept me from trying it.


To order, simple tell the cashier at the front of the shop you want májiàng miàn or point to a bowl situated in front of one of the many other customers. You'll pay for your noodles (9 rmb on my last visit) and receive your receipt.

Then it's time to stake out a table. As this place is usually packed, seats are generally at a premium. Look for patrons on the verge of leaving and hover over their table. Once they have left, slide onto your seat and grab one of the clothespins on your table. Each of the clothespins will be labeled with the number of your table. Simply clip your receipt to it and hand it to one of the waitresses as they hurry past.


Within minutes you'll be rewarded with a creamy bowl of sesame paste noodles, topped off with a splash of chili oil and chives.


While Wei Xiang Zhai certainly isn't going to be winning a style (or cleanliness) award anytime soon, you can't help but enjoy this tiny shop. Just don't enjoy it too much, as someone else will be hovering over your coveted seat soon.

Address: 14 Yandang Lu, near Huaihai Zhong Lu
 雁荡路14号 (近淮海中路)

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